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City of Viroqua to hold public information meeting about Main Street traffic redesign

VIROQUA, Wis. – There will be a public information meeting this week about changes that are on the horizon for the City of Viroqua’s Main Street over the next couple of years.

Viroqua City Engineer and Director of Public Works Sarah Grainger has been working with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and some private engineering firms to revamp the cities traffic patterns and rework intersections on main street in an effort to make them safer, and hopefully make traffic flow more smoothly.

City Engineer Sarah Grainger’s presentation on the downtown traffic redesign

The first project taking place this summer is paid in part through the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). It involves sections of Main Street outside of downtown, from Brendel Lane to Highway 56 and South Street to Rusk Avenue. The second improvement, planned for 2024, is funded in part by the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and involves the sections of Main Street in the downtown, from Hwy 56 to South Street.

About two thirds of the two projects will be paid for by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation through grants. With these two projects combined, the City has received $935,000 in grant funding from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The City will be contributing the remaining $450,000 through tax increment district funds.

Project one – summer 2023

The first of two projects will begin next month (July) and will focus on the areas north and south of downtown. The main change motorists will see to those two sections of highway is the switch from four lanes to three, with a middle (two-way left-turn) lane – known as a twiddle (TWLTL). The lane serves as a separation for opposing lanes of traffic and removes left-turning vehicles from the through lane.

Diagrams of twiddle layout north and south of downtown

In addition to realigning the traffic lanes there will be a number of improvements to increase pedestrian safety, especially at key intersections. The reduction of lanes to cross the highway by itself should make it easier for pedestrians to cross a busy state road, but in addition to the reduction in lanes to cross there will also be the addition of “corrugated medians” or pedestrian “islands” that will allow pedestrians to the ability to stop between lanes at crosswalks. The islands will be added at busy intersections like at the fairgrounds entrance and at Decker Street (near Walgreens and the Viroqua Food Co-op, Oak Street and Maple Street .

The project will also include a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB). There is already one of those beacons at Oak Street near the hospital and that one will be improved, but another will be added at Broadway. Grainger said there are some other intersections where the pedestrian islands are being installed that will be monitored and could possibly get a flashing beacon sometime in the future.

Detailed layout of intersection at Fairgrounds Rd

The other fairly significant change that will come with this year’s project is a reconfiguration of the busiest intersection in the city, and maybe in the county, the intersection of Main Street (US Hwy 14) and Decker Street (State Hwy 56). You can see from the diagram below the east and west traffic will be narrowed to one lane with the use of “bump outs” in the curbing. The bump outs are designed to help large trucks make turns easier and the loss the turn lane will be made up for by the addition another traffic phase in the traffic signal. The east and west bound traffic will add an exclusive phase where the east exclusive right of way first and then the west. So drivers will have to wait for their light a bit longer but when the light does change they will have the complete right of way to turn left right or go straight without worrying about oncoming traffic.

Decker and Main Street reconfiguration

To learn more about this year’s project (Highway Safety Improvement Project) you can attend a public information meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 28 at 5:00 p.m. online at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88106972146 or attend in person at City Hall in the lower-level Community Room.

For more details on the project you can also visit the WisDOT website by clicking here for more information.

Summer 2024 downtown traffic reconfiguration

Next year the central portion of the downtown traffic pattern will see a number of changes. The traffic light that currently controls the intersection at Main Street and Jefferson will move to South Street. Engineers working on the design have said the idea is to reduce the backed up traffic in the downtown blocks. One way to do that is move the traffic lights farther apart. The current layout tends to result in lots of stopped vehicles in the busiest three blocks downtown. You can see the layout in the design (2C) that was chosen below.

This design also adds a number of other items to increase traffic flow and increase pedestrian safety.

  • Left turn lanes will be added in some spots where there are none now. (Court and Terhune)
  • All three side-streets will be one way streets. Court street is already a one way, directed away from Main Street, so that will be unchanged. Jefferson Street will now be a one way street, directed toward main street, and Terhune will be a one way street, directed away from Main Street.
  • Bump-outs will also be added to corners to shorten the crossing distance.
  • Islands will be added in some spots to give pedestrian “refuge” areas when crossing.
  • A Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) will be installed at Jefferson Street.

A presentation was given about next years project to the City Council’s Committee of the Whole regarding the alternatives. That presentation can be found at this link or view the recorded meeting by clicking here.

For more information about the informational meeting contact Sarah Grainger at 608-637-2937, s.grainger@viroqua-wisconsin.com, or visit www.viroqua-wisconsin.com

For more details about the project including design maps and and links to multi-media presentations about the project you can got to the City of Viroqua Public Works webpage.

Supporting Information

Downtown Jefferson Intersection Perspectives

Selected Option 2C – Downtown Street Configuration

Downtown Main Street Circulation and Safety Recommendations Memo

Committee of the Whole Presentation on Public Input and Analysis Downtown

US 14 Corridor Evaluation

Viroqua 2020 Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE)

2020 Proposed Multi-Use Trail Map

2015 Downtown Planning Report and Transporation Assessment

Westby & Viroqua Safe Routes to School Plan

City of Viroqua Comprehensive Plan-2007

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